Although Election Day was November 6, voters will be heading to the polls for one outstanding Senate race. On Tuesday, Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican, is facing off against Mike Espy, a Democrat, in Mississippi's runoff election. Because neither Hyde-Smith nor Espy snagged a majority of the vote on Election Day, state rules demand a redo of sorts.
The Senate race gained more national attention after Hyde-Smith was caught on camera joking about being "front row" at a "public hanging" and saying voting should be a "little more difficult" for Democrats. Espy, Hyde-Smith's opponent, is Black. Mississippi had some of the highest rates of lynchings in the country after the abolition of slavery.
President Donald Trump has been stumping for Hyde-Smith, telling reporters he knows "where her heart is, and her heart is good." Trump also asked voters at a rally, "How does [Espy] fit in with Mississippi? I mean, how does he fit in?"
After Hyde-Smith refused to properly apologize for her statements (she claimed that her words were misconstrued, and said sorry to "anyone who was offended"), Espy, a moderate Democrat and former U.S. secretary of agriculture, said Mississippi "can't afford a senator who embarrasses us."
Despite Hyde-Smith's dog-whistling comments, polls show that she is still projected to win. According to CNN, in order for Espy to win the seat, he will not only need to get Black voters to turn out in greater numbers in his favor, but will also need to win over white moderate voters. According to recent polling, he only has 16 to 17% of the white vote and Hyde-Smith has averaged a double-digit lead.
But, there is still a possibility that Espy could emerge victorious. Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in an Alabama special Senate election last year, thanks to large voter turnout among Black people, particularly Black women. Mississippi is about 35% Black according to Vox, and if this segment of the population turns out in record numbers to vote on Tuesday, Espy could pull off a win.